Thursday, November 26, 2009


The last time I traveled I was stuck in Minneapolis overnight, and I got to know a few of my fellow travelers in that odd way that friendships spring up instantly in such situations, like desert flowers after a rain.

Two such women I'll call Frances and Lynn. Both were from the Colorado Springs area, and they had known each other years ago and met by chance on this multi-delayed flight. In fact, Frances's husband was a dentist, and Lynn had been his hygienist for 13 years. They were fascinated by my Mennonite life and six children.

The conversation turned to grandchildren, so naturally I listened and didn't talk. And gifts for grandchildren. "WHAT do you get for the grandchildren?" one asked. "They already have everything." The other shook her head in agreement and shared disbelief. "Everything those children could want or even think of wanting, they already have." "I finally started just sending a birthday card and a tiny little gift, like a pack of gum, and then I put money in a college fund for them," said Frances.

Lynn told of a recent Christmas with her sister's family. The sister had, in a desperate attempt to finally get something the 8-year-old granddaughter would love and appreciate, bought a large elaborate dollhouse with hand-carved furniture that was the beginning and end of dollhouses.

"It must have cost hundreds!" exclaimed Frances.

Lynn shook her head. "No. Thousands." She went on, "And the granddaughter came downstairs, opened her gifts, looked at the dollhouse, thanked her grandma, and didn't pay any more attention to that dollhouse the rest of the day."

Frances and I were looking at her slack-jawed. Lynn looked at me. "I'll bet your children wouldn't have reacted like that."

I assured her that was true. In fact, I can just see the raptures Amy and Emily would have been in at that age if someone would have given them such an incredible gift--the round shining eyes, the reverent stroking of the wood, the careful inspection, the exclamations, the delight, the gratitude.

So I felt like I had maybe done something right as a mom and there has been redemption for our poor days and constant frugality.

However. It wasn't too long until I realized there's another side to this, and that is that God has given me dollhouses, as it were, of the most astonishing beauty and detail and expense, and I have so often either ignored them or glanced at them briefly, muttered my thanks, and not looked at them the rest of the day.

For instance: water. To think I can go to at least six places in my house and turn a knob and out comes clean, pure water that I can wash my hands in, fill a kettle with, or drink without the slightest filtering or fear. And there's more there than I will ever use. And it's free. And if I turn this other knob, the water comes out hot!

Imagine explaining that to a woman in Darfur. And telling her that most of the time I take this completely for granted. Wow. Not to guilt myself, just to remind myself today to think of all these gifts and to be awed and grateful again.

* * *
Happy birthday to my dad, who is 93 today!! May we all be raising rabbits and cutting wood at his age.

And hugs to those who are missing loved ones today. I'm remembering Lenny my beloved nephew, Neil (who was born while the rest of us were at my first Thanksgiving dinner with the Smuckers, in Orval and Lena's house, and his grandma was all fluttery and his grandpa was way too calm, and cousin Brian thought there should be an apostrophe after Neil's middle name, Darin, to show his future personality I think), Marilyn (my friend and also SIL Laura's mom, who passed away I think the night after Thanksgiving 25 years ago. She was a sweet and amazing woman.) and there are lots more.

Special thanks to you Shoe readers who take the time to read what I write. That is an astonishing gift to me, and I appreciate it deeply.

Quote of the Day:
"I all of the sudden realized how hilarious it is that everyone eats turkey on thanksgiving. It's like a bizarre attempt to set a world record for "most people eating turkey at once."


  1. What a beautiful and inspirational post! Blessings this Thanksgiving Day!
    Emily's quote is hilarious--made me laugh:)

  2. We are all just incredibly blessed. I agree--we get jaded by our blessings at time. I think we should have Thanksgiving at least once a month--make that every day!!

  3. I thank you for giving us your thoughts and musings in this way, my friend... I love it.

    When I get big and my mind is creative, then I want to be like you.

    Thank you.


  4. I love the way you heard God remind you that you too have received 'magnificent dollhouses' and barely recognized them for the special gifts from your heavenly Father that they really are...How He longs to see us notice His blessings and be truly grateful.
    Leona Troyer